What's Wrong With Palm Oil? (Lush Factsheet)

A Lush factsheet about the environmental destruction caused by the palm oil industries in Indonesia and Malaysia. Readers are encouraged to stop consuming products containing palm oil for the sake of the rainforests and for the species, including orang-utans that have been forced to the brink of extinction. Find out more about Lush at www.lush.com Download this factsheet from http://veganfuture.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/whats-wrong-with-palm-oil-lush-factsheet.pdf pdf 180 kb Recommended Youtube Video: The problem with palm oil http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87OxidOWQmk See Also: The Truth About Palm Oil http://www.scribd.com/doc/22129518
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  All photos: © Helen Buckland It is estimated that within 15years 98% of the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia willbe gone.The lowland forest that theoil-palm industry favours for conversion is the only remaininghabitat of the orangutan.Almost 90 per cent of orangutanhabitat has already disappeared.Some orangutan populationshave been halved in the past15 years, and they may beextinct in the wild within 10years if current trends of habitatloss continue. Orangutans under threatFaced with these enormous problems,the immediate solutions available to Lushincluded buying palm from “sustainable”sources or eliminating palm from our products.For several years Lush has been looking into theenvironmental and social concerns surrounding theuse of palm oil in cosmetics, food and biofuels. During this time we travelled to Indonesia, to see the situation onthe ground for ourselves, met with groups such as the SumatranOrangutan Society, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, Friendsof the Earth (FoE) and Greenpeace, attended a meeting of theRoundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and talked to other manufacturers and retailers.We have done all of this because we use palm oil in our products, and we were concernedabout what impact this ingredient was having on the people, animals and environment where it is grown and processed. So, what did we find? Palm oil plantations now cover vast swathesof land in Indonesia and Malaysia. Most of theseplantations are in areas which were once coveredin lush tropical rainforests. This conversion of foreststo monoculture palm plantations has resulted in theloss of some of the most important habitats onthe planet. Fires are deliberately lit to clear andprepare the land causing massive quantities of carbon to be released into the atmosphere, addingto the already serious global problem of climatechange. Deforestation is responsible for over 20%of global carbon emissions and Indonesia has thefastest rate of forest loss in the world. Indigenouspeople have been forced from their land and thoseworking on the lowest rungs of the palm industryladder are earning a pittance. Finally, the last refugeof the Orangutan is being destroyed, forcing theseanimals to the brink of extinction.  We are now engaged in a public campaignto urge other retailers and manufacturers tocut their palm use by at least half, and areworking with environmental organisationsand industry by forming a collaborativeworking group called Actively SeekingAlternatives to Palm (ASAP).We believe that until global levels of palm useare cut dramatically, and plans to use palm as abiofuel are scrapped entirely, there is little hope of a workable sustainable palm oil industry, and thefuture of the forests, animals and people of Indonesia and Malaysia is bleak.  What can you do? Support groups like Friends of the Earth( www.foe.org.uk ) and the Sumatran OragutanSociety ( www.orangutans-sos.org ) who areactively campaigning on these issues.Encourage other manufacturers and retailers tocut their consumption of palm oil and tell electedrepresentatives to oppose moves to mandatebiofuels in the EU.Ninety per cent of the world’spalm-oil exports come fromIndonesia and Malaysia.Indonesia will appear in the2008 Guinness Book of WorldRecords as the country with thefastest rate of deforestation inthe world.Indonesia aims to almostdouble the 6.5m hectares under oil palm plantation in the next five to eight years and triple it by 2020.Between 1997 and 1998 it isestimated that the emissions from the forest fires in Indonesia were equivalent to 40% of allglobal emissions from burningfossil fuels that year. Indonesia’s peat-land fires, set to clear land for new palmplantations, generate approx.1,400m tonnes of carbon dioxideeach year, contributing to itsposition as the world’s third-largest producer of CO2. Fast Facts It seems to us that the only way to really tackle theseproblems is if a level of consumption is reached thatdoes not put such a strain on the environment. Palmoil is increasingly being used to produce biofuel andis already a common food ingredient (one out of every ten products in the supermarket contains palmoil), so even at current levels of consumption thedemand for palm is too great for it be produced in atruly sustainable manner, and the problem is onlygetting worse.While the measures being proposed by the RSPO for “certified sustainable palm oil” are a step in the right direction, Lush feel that they do not go far enough and will not be enacted fast enough toprevent further catastrophic deforestation, puttingthe people and animals who live in the region in peril.Immediate action is required, and cutting palm oilconsumption is a crucial part of the equation.With the cosmetics industry using approximately6-7% of the world’s palm oil, we felt it was important to get our own house in order first. For almost a year Lush worked in partnership with a leadingUK soap-base manufacturer, Kay’s, to develop the world’s first commercially available palm-free soap base. Lush has now switched all of its UK soapproduction to this new palm-free base,thereby reducing its annual palm oil useby approximately250,000 kilograms.      P    a     l    m     F  r  u    i  t © Lush Ltd. 29 High Street, Poole Dorset BH15 1AB, UKTel: 01202 667830 Fax: 01202 661832 www.lush.com
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